When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism that he sees amongst everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas paegent. Charlie Brown accepts, but it proves to be a frustrating struggle. When an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus' help to learn what the real meaning of Christmas is. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
Broke many of the rules prevalent for animated holiday specials during the 1960s: it didn't make use of a laugh track; real children were used for the character voices instead of adult actors imitating children's voices; and Biblical references were used to illustrate the true meaning of Christmas. See more »
The number of branches and needles on the tree that Charlie Brown picks out changes from scene to scene. See more »
[Charlie Brown and Linus stop at a wall on their trip to the pond for ice skating]
I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel.
[begins to walk with Linus again]
I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.
Linus Van Pelt:
Charlie Brown, you're the only person I ...
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As spiritual as you will see come the next millennium
This morning I turned on the television to find something with just the right atmosphere for opening Christmas presents. But in the 500-channel universe, could I find the Queen, or the Pope, or anything? I could find practically anything but Christmas.
The most inappropriate programme on wasn't the infomercial for the miracle juicer, no, it was the annual Parade of Expensive Children's Merchandise direct from Disneyland, in case there were some kids left who hadn't coerced a Mickey, or Terk, or Pumbaa from their beleaguered parents. One of the French channels did have a service from Notre Dame in Paris which was the right sort of thing, with an actual church and choir, but it was entirely in French. But then I found "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on one of the stations.
Once upon a time, "Charlie Brown" was just a prelude for its television viewers, most of whom would be attending church closer to Christmas Day. Nowadays, it's probably more than just the prelude; it's likely to be the whole concert.
Thank goodness Charles Schulz and company did such a fine job of crafting this programme back in 1965. Thirty-five years later, Charlie Brown is still as earnest and sympathetic as ever. He was even decrying the commercialization of Christmas back then, decrying in the wilderness, it seems.
Vince Guaraldi normally gets a lot of credit for his music, but there is far more to the show than just that. It is extremely well-written with a lot of charming and funny lines. I particularly like Linus as "an innocent shepherd", but even Snoopy as a penguin is sure to get a big laugh.
But at the midway point in the programme, the tone changes from quality seasonal fun to something very sincere and deeply held. Linus delivers his heartfelt sermon from the pulpit (the school stage). The Peanuts gang renews its faith (in Charlie Brown, at the very least). The congregation assembled there together raises its collective voice in the recessional hymn "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" as we bid them farewell and take our leave. It is these parallels from the church service, I feel, that contribute to the strong emotion many of us experience whenever we view this small triumph of television programming.
Would I say that everything in the story conforms to a higher design conceived by Charles Schulz? I won't hazard a guess, but I do like to feel that he felt a little touch of divine inspiration with this one.
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